Film and TV property demand through the roof as Thames Valley and Oxfordshire home to major studios

Rebellion Film Studios Didcot

The film and TV industry is an increasingly important source of demand for UK landlords, with high-end TV production spend at almost record high despite pandemic.

That’s according to property consultancy Knight Frank, which says that the popularity of the TV boxset is good news for UK landlords.

Film industry tax breaks and the weaker pound have boosted activity in recent years, with Hollywood stars taking short-lets in London, the Home Counties and beyond. However, a growing number of high-end television productions means lengthier shoots and longer tenancies.

Plans announced this month for a £700 million film and TV studio in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, mean activity will escalate further. As will the announcement by Amazon last week that it will move the production of its multi-million pound series based on the Lord of the Rings books to the UK from New Zealand.

“Demand is already through the roof” said Harriet Gore, head of the film and media team at Knight Frank. “The ratio of prospective tenants to available properties is 10 to 1 and higher in some areas. My message to landlords is that if you can furnish your property to a good standard, you can charge a premium of between 20% and 30% compared to the long-let market.”

The number of enquiries and deals agreed from the film and TV industry are on track to be more than a third higher this year than in 2019, Harriet said.

Last December, The University of Reading announced it had entered into an agreement with affiliates of Commonwealth Real Estate LP, a film studios investor based in Los Angeles, for a long lease of land at the University’s Thames Valley Science Park campus which will see the development of a major film studios and creative media campus.

The campus will be known as Shinfield Studios, and is expected to open, subject to planning approval, in late 2022. The studios will bring major Hollywood film productions to the UK, creating around 1,500 new jobs, and supporting up to 1,500 further indirect jobs.

Hollywood comes to Reading as Uni ties up with film studios investor

In 2018, One of Europe’s leading independent game developers and comic book publishers, Rebellion, which is behind computer games such as Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, bought a former Daily Mail newspaper factory at Didcot. Rebellion acquired and converted the 220,000-sq-ft facility in Didcot – 50 miles west of London and close to its Oxford headquarters into a film studio.

Although the film and TV industry suffered widespread disruption due to the pandemic, it has bounced back strongly. Figures published by the British Film Institute (BFI) show production spend on films and high-end TV in the UK was £2.84 billion in 2020, down by a fifth compared to 2019. However, £1.19 billion was spent in the final quarter of last year, the second highest ever figure over a three-month period.

Harriett added: “The pandemic means productions have been delayed or stretched over longer periods of time, which has reduced budgets,” said Harriet. “On top of that, more TV shows are shooting, which means a growing number of tenancies are being agreed on a long-let basis.”